Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

R | 141 mins | Drama | 20 December 2006

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
You may also like these titles from the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, the most authoritative documentation of the First 100 Years of American filmmaking.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of the film was Red Sun, Black Sand . According to copyright records, another working title was Diary of a General . Only the company credits and title appear before the film; all other credits are at the end. Among several organizations given written thanks in the closing credits were the Association of Iwo-Jima, the Ogasawara Municipal Office and Special Thanks to Johnny’s Junior Kids. Dialogue in Letters From Iwo Jima was in the Japanese language with English subtitles. Several reviews of the film noted that the film’s desaturated color heightened the mood of the film and made it appear almost black and white.
       According to a Jan 2006 Var news item, Letters From Iwo Jima was developed by director Clint Eastwood while working on the 2006 Paramount release, Flags of Our Fathers , which related the story of the World War II battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the United States Marines. That film centered on the events surrounding the now iconic image of Mount Suribachi as the American flag was raised by Marines on the fifth day of the battle. A photograph of the event became world-famous and was later the basis for a memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The news item indicated that Eastwood concluded that the only way to tell the full story of one of the bloodiest campaigns in the Pacific theater was to present both the American and Japanese experiences, but in separate films. According to interviews, Eastwood had investigated purchasing the rights to ... More Less

The working title of the film was Red Sun, Black Sand . According to copyright records, another working title was Diary of a General . Only the company credits and title appear before the film; all other credits are at the end. Among several organizations given written thanks in the closing credits were the Association of Iwo-Jima, the Ogasawara Municipal Office and Special Thanks to Johnny’s Junior Kids. Dialogue in Letters From Iwo Jima was in the Japanese language with English subtitles. Several reviews of the film noted that the film’s desaturated color heightened the mood of the film and made it appear almost black and white.
       According to a Jan 2006 Var news item, Letters From Iwo Jima was developed by director Clint Eastwood while working on the 2006 Paramount release, Flags of Our Fathers , which related the story of the World War II battle of Iwo Jima from the perspective of the United States Marines. That film centered on the events surrounding the now iconic image of Mount Suribachi as the American flag was raised by Marines on the fifth day of the battle. A photograph of the event became world-famous and was later the basis for a memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The news item indicated that Eastwood concluded that the only way to tell the full story of one of the bloodiest campaigns in the Pacific theater was to present both the American and Japanese experiences, but in separate films. According to interviews, Eastwood had investigated purchasing the rights to the book of Flags of Our Fathers , but upon learning that they were held by Steven Spielberg, gave up on the project. Later, Spielberg approached Eastwood to direct the film. Spielberg then went on to produce Letters From Iwo Jima for DreamWorks and Warner Bros.
       An Oct 2006 LAT article indicated that producer Paul Haggis selected screenwriting novice Iris Yamashita to write the script. Yamashita, a second-generation Japanese American, knew nothing about Iwo Jima prior to her work on the script. In researching, the writer utilized the same historical documents that Eastwood examined, including the letters of Tadamichi Kuribayashi (1891—1945), the commander of the Japanese forces on Iwo Jima. Although the film depicts Kuribayashi writing to his family during his period on Iwo Jima, the book credited as a basis for the script, Picture Letters from Commander in Chief , contains correspondence from Kuribayashi’s service as a military envoy in America and Canada from 1928--1931. In the writing of the script Yamashita also employed information from descendents of Baron Takeichi Nishi (1902—1945), the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic gold medal winner for equestrian show jumping, and from soldiers’ diaries. As the film is almost entirely in Japanese, Yamashita’s English language script was translated by several Japanese transcription services. Letters From Iwo Jima marked Yamashita’s screenwriting debut. The role of “Saigo” was played by popular Japanese pop-star Kazunari Ninomiya. Although Eastwood normally has composed the score for films he has directed, for Letters From Iwo Jima Eastwood’s son, Kyle Eastwood, co-wrote the film’s music with Michael Stevens.
       Described as a “companion piece” to Flags of Our Fathers , Letters From Iwo Jima contains moments of footage from the prior film, including shots of the U.S. Naval force surrounding the island and the Marine landing. A few sequences from the earlier film, such as the American flame-thrower assault on Japanese soldiers falling out of their cave are mirrored in Letters From Iwo Jima . A scene from the first film that shows a horrified medic’s response to the brutal mutilation of a comrade, whose body is never shown, is revealed in the second film as the result of the Japanese soldiers’ outrage at the horror and devastation of the use of flame-throwers. Although the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi is not seen in Letters From Iwo Jima , the raised flag is witnessed by Japanese soldiers from a cave several miles from the volcano.
       While Eastwood had filmed most of Flags of Our Fathers in Iceland, which had black sand on its beaches similar to that on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima, he received special permission from the Japanese government to film portions of Letters From Iwo Jima on the island. The bulk of the film was shot in Southern California. The final budget for the film was twenty million dollars. Letters From Iwo Jima was initially scheduled to be released in Feb 2007, four months after the release of Flags of Our Fathers . In Nov 2006, however, the decision was made to move the release up to Dec 2006 to qualify it for Academy Award eligibility. An Oct 2006 DV news item indicated that Eastwood requested the change after the enthusiastic response in Tokyo to a preview of the film. Letters From Iwo Jima marked the final film of longtime Eastwood associate, production designer Henry Bumstead (17 Mar 1915—24 May 2006), and casting director Phyllis Huffman (23 Jun 1944—2 Mar 2006).
       The Battle of Iwo Jima occurred from 19 Feb to 26 Mar 1945. Iwo Jima (Sulfur Island) was part of the Ogasawara, a group of islands approximately 520 miles south of Tokyo, which the Japanese knew were crucial to defending the home islands. As noted in numerous historical sources, after the loss of the Marianas to the Americans in the summer of 1944, a critical event mentioned in the film, reinforcements were sent to build up the Iwo Jima Army garrison and naval base. As indicated in the film, Lt. Gen. Kuribayashi arrived on Iwo Jima in Jun 1944, which shortly thereafter was bombed by the U.S. Navy, destroying all every building and all but four Japanese aircraft on the island. As shown in the film, army Lt. Gen. Hideyoshi Obata believed the defense of the island should follow the standard military practice of defending the beaches, but Kuribayashi insisted on radical measures. These included placing artillery, mortars and rockets at the base of the dormant volcano Mount Suribachi, and the controversial plan for a vast system of caves and tunnels from which the troops would defend the island.
       At Kuribayashi’s request, mining engineers were dispatched to Iwo Jima to create blueprints for the underground network. Although tunnels were intended to connect Suribachi, at the southernmost end of the island, with Kuribayashi’s command post in the northern part of the island, only eleven of the projected seventeen miles of passageways were completed before the Marine landing. As depicted in the film, frantic work on the caves and passageways were constantly disrupted by continual American bombardments from Dec 1944 up until the Feb 1945 invasion. In addition to these measures, Kuribayashi’s tactics included not firing on American naval vessels in order to prevent disclosing artillery locations; offering no opposition to the beach landing; waiting for the enemy to advance 500 meters on the beach before commencing their assault; and while inflicting as many enemy casualties as possible, forbidding large-scale counterattacks and withdrawals or “banzai” (suicide) charges. The American attack plan, led by veterans of the successful amphibious assaults on Guadalcanal and Guam, anticipated taking the island within a matter of days. The Marines suffered 23,000 casualties, including nearly 7,000 dead, out of a force of 70,000. Out of a force of 23,000, 22,000 Japanese died during the thirty-nine-day conflict.
       Letters From Iwo Jima was selected by AFI as one of the Movies of the Year for 2006. AFI also named Eastwood a “national treasure,” declaring his work on both Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers “a moment of significance for post 9/11 cinema.” In addition, Letters From Iwo Jima received an Academy Award for Achievement in Sound Editing and nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. The film was honored by the National Board of Review as Best Film of the Year and received a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Eastwood received two nominations in the Golden Globes' Best Director--Motion Picture category, one for Letters From Iwo Jima and another for Flags of Our Fathers , but lost to Martin Scorsese for The Departed . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 Mar 2006
p. 3, 27.
Daily Variety
13 Oct 2006
p. 1, 30.
Daily Variety
16 Nov 2006
p. 1, 17.
Daily Variety
6 Dec 2006.
---
Entertainment Weekly
22 Dec 2006
p. 59.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Oct 2006.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 2006
The Envelope, pp. 21-22.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 2006
Section A, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 2006
Calendar, p. 1, 6.
New York Times
20 Dec 2006.
---
Variety
9 Jan 2006.
---
Variety
4 Sep 2006
p. 1, 5.
Variety
7 Dec 2006.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Malpaso/Amblin Entertainment Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Co-prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam/Steadicam op
'A' cam 1st asst
'A' cam 2d asst
'B' cam 1st asst
'B' cam op
Cam loader
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Key rigging grip
Key rigging gaffer
Best boy rigging gaffer
HD cam op
Cam cranes and dollies by
Lighting equipment provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Edited on
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Key armorer
Const coord
Const gen foreman
Propmaker foreman
Const labor foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Greens coord
Lead set des
Set des
Scenic artist/Calligraphy consultant
Leadperson
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
On set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Set cost
Set cost
Set cost
MUSIC
Orch and cond
Mus ed
Mus scoring mixer
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Co-supv sd ed
1st asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd utility
Supv dial ed
ADR supv
ADR asst ed
ADR mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Supv Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Mix tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
Visual eff supv
Visual eff supv, Digital Domain
Spec eff supv
Spec eff set coord
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Visual eff and digital anim
Visual eff prod, Digital Domain
Digital eff supv, Digital Domain
Digital prod, Digital Domain
Computer graphics supv, Digital Domain
Computer graphics supv, Digital Domain
Compositing supv, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
CG eff artist, Digital Domain
Lead CG modeler, Digital Domain
Lead CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
CG lighting artist, Digital Domain
3D integration lead, Digital Domain
3D integration lead, Digital Domain
3D integration artist, Digital Domain
3D integration artist, Digital Domain
3D integration artist, Digital Domain
3D integration artist, Digital Domain
Digital compositing lead, Digital Domain
Digital compositing lead, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Compositor, Digital Domain
Matte painter, Digital Domain
Matte painter, Digital Domain
Digital texture paint lead, Digital Domain
Lead rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Rotoscope artist, Digital Domain
Visual eff ed, Digital Domain
Visual eff ed, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
Visual eff coord, Digital Domain
MAKEUP
Makeup dept head
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hair dept head
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Japanese casting assoc
Casting assoc
Casting assoc
Extras casting
Unit prod mgr
Malpaso exec
Asst to Mr. Eastwood
Asst to Mr. Eastwood
Asst to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Spielberg
Asst to Mr. Lorenz
Asst to Mr. Haggis
Supv prod coord
Japanese prod supv
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Prod accountant
1st asst prod accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Key asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Japanese cultural adv
Asst military tech adv
Asst military tech adv
Script translator/Key interpreter
Interpreter
Interpreter
Interpreter
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Set staff asst
Set staff asst
Set staff asst
Set staff asst
Set staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Staff asst
Craft service
Set medic
Set medic
Animal wrangler
Security supv
ANIMATION
Lead anim, Digital Domain
Anim, Digital Domain
Anim, Digital Domain
Anim, Digital Domain
Anim, Digital Domain
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital film colorist
Digital intermediate
Digital intermediate prod
Digital conform
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Picture Letters from Commander in Chief , by Tadamichi Kuribayashi, edited by Tsuyuko Yoshida, published by Shogakukan-Bunko (Tokyo, publication date undetermined).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Red Sun, Black Sand
Diary of a General
Release Date:
20 December 2006
Premiere Information:
Tokyo opening: 9 December 2006
Production Date:
13 March--8 April 2006 in Iwo Jima, Japan and at Warner Bros. Studios
Copyright Claimants:
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. DreamWorks Films, LLC
Copyright Dates:
8 March 2007 8 March 2007
Copyright Numbers:
PA0001366631 PA0001366631
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; dts Digital; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor
Lenses/Prints
Panavision cameras and lenses; Prints by Technicolor; Kodak Motion Picture Products
Duration(in mins):
141
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
Japanese
PCA No:
43136
SYNOPSIS

Sixty years after the end of World War II, Japanese researchers arrive on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to explore the caves and tunnels built by their soldiers to defend against American attack forces. In June 1944, Imperial army commander Lt. Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi and his aide, Lt. Fujita, arrive at their new post in Iwo Jima to prepare defenses for the island’s crucial airplane landing strips. Upon making a walking tour of the island, Kuribayashi calls an immediate halt to the digging of trenches along the beaches, a traditional defense measure, which distresses navy and army officers alike, including dysentery-plagued Admiral Ohsugi, dedicated Lt. Ito, traditional Col. Adachi and rigid Maj. Gen. Hayashi. Kuribayashi, who years earlier served as a military envoy in the United States, recognizes that America’s great industrial strength gives their forces an enormous advantage, but is nevertheless determined to mount an aggressive defense of the island. Young Pvt. Saigo appreciates Kuribayashi’s thoughtful treatment of the soldiers, but his friend Nozaki wonders about their fate upon hearing the rumor that their new commander is pro-American and the military's second choice for the island posting. Over the next several weeks, Kuribayashi struggles to unify the army and naval forces on the island and continues to confound his officers with unusual defense plans, including moving heavy artillery from the beaches to emplacements dug into the rocky terrain of the dormant volcano Mount Suribachi at the southern tip of the island. Despite the infrequency of mail pick-up ships stopping at the island, Kuribayashi writes to his wife and children on a regular basis, describing a sanguine situation and decorating his letters ... +


Sixty years after the end of World War II, Japanese researchers arrive on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to explore the caves and tunnels built by their soldiers to defend against American attack forces. In June 1944, Imperial army commander Lt. Gen. Tadamichi Kuribayashi and his aide, Lt. Fujita, arrive at their new post in Iwo Jima to prepare defenses for the island’s crucial airplane landing strips. Upon making a walking tour of the island, Kuribayashi calls an immediate halt to the digging of trenches along the beaches, a traditional defense measure, which distresses navy and army officers alike, including dysentery-plagued Admiral Ohsugi, dedicated Lt. Ito, traditional Col. Adachi and rigid Maj. Gen. Hayashi. Kuribayashi, who years earlier served as a military envoy in the United States, recognizes that America’s great industrial strength gives their forces an enormous advantage, but is nevertheless determined to mount an aggressive defense of the island. Young Pvt. Saigo appreciates Kuribayashi’s thoughtful treatment of the soldiers, but his friend Nozaki wonders about their fate upon hearing the rumor that their new commander is pro-American and the military's second choice for the island posting. Over the next several weeks, Kuribayashi struggles to unify the army and naval forces on the island and continues to confound his officers with unusual defense plans, including moving heavy artillery from the beaches to emplacements dug into the rocky terrain of the dormant volcano Mount Suribachi at the southern tip of the island. Despite the infrequency of mail pick-up ships stopping at the island, Kuribayashi writes to his wife and children on a regular basis, describing a sanguine situation and decorating his letters with idyllic drawings. Saigo, who also writes continually to his wife Hanako and their baby, whom he has never seen, relates the arrival of nobleman baron Lt. Col. Takeichi Nishi, an equestrian gold medal winner at the 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Kuribayashi welcomes Nishi and his horse, and the men reminisce about their days in the cavalry. Later over dinner, Nishi informs Kuribayashi that with the thorough defeat of the Japanese fleet at the Mariana Islands, it is evident that Iwo Jima will receive no naval or air support. When Kuribayashi announces his intention to build a series of caves and tunnels from which to mount their defense, Ohsugi and the other officers consider the action defeatist and doomed to fail. Despite their weakened physical state from limited rations and the constant nuisance of heat and bugs, most of the garrison commences the difficult work of digging into the island. Continually sickened by dysentery, Saigo’s friend Kashiwara dies. Later, Saigo and Nozaki suspect that replacement Pvt. Shimizu, from the prestigious police military academy, is a spy placed among the regular soldiers to report unpatriotic talk. When the men continue to receive meager rations, a hungry Saigo confides in Nozaki that he and Hanako ran a bakery until the military’s relentless requisitioning finally drove them out of business. Saigo also recalls the day he was called into service and his promise to his then unborn daughter to return home. Despite the navy’s success in forcing Kuribayashi to construct traditional gun casemates and pillboxes along the landing beaches, the officers remain deeply concerned with Kuribayashi’s methods. When Kuribayashi tells Ohsugi he is transferring him back to the mainland for health reasons, the admiral bluntly tells him that the cave defense is futile. Kuribayashi angrily responds that the longer the island can divert crucial American forces, the more time it will provide the homeland to gather its own defenses. Before departing, Ohsugi encourages Hayashi to continue resisting the general’s recklessness. As the work on the caves and tunnels continues, Nishi overhears hidebound Capt. Tanida instructing the soldiers, with the eager Shimizu reciting the military belief that Americans are cowardly and weak. Soon after, the American pre-assault begins with a heavy bombing campaign and Nishi is distraught when his horse, is fatally wounded in the first raid. The arrival of the American navy brings additional bombardments, increasing the tension throughout the caves. With the invasion imminent, Kuribayashi addresses his men over speakers, exhorting them to fight for their country and to kill ten Americans before they die. The enemy landing begins and despite heavy casualties from the unexpected, hidden defenses, the Americans gradually make their way toward Suribachi and the western side of the island. After days of desperate fighting, Tanida orders Saigo to request reinforcement from Adachi, but Saigo finds the commander despondent and prepared to order mass suicide despite Kuribayashi’s strict orders forbidding it. Returning to his unit’s cave with Adachi's note to Tanida, to Saigo’s horror, the men, including the frightened, weeping Nozaki, follow Adachi’s orders and begin killing themselves with grenades. After Tanida shoots himself, Saigo convinces the overwrought Shimizu to retreat with him. As the pair hasten through the maze of tunnels, they witness two soldiers set on fire with American flame-throwers. Moments later, when a Marine accidentally falls into a tunnel, the outraged soldiers brutally slay him. Saigo and Shimizu make their way to the cave commanded by Ito, who is furious that they have fled their position. His attempt to execute them for cowardice is halted by Kuribayashi, who announces that Mount Suribachi has fallen. Hayashi and Ito insist they must retake the mountain and although Kuribayashi refuses, that night Hayashi leads an attack outside. Ito follows, but when Hayashi and his men are decimated, he falls back and orders his men to join Nishi's unit. Ito then takes numerous anti-tank mines and, placing them around his neck, lies down among the dead men hoping he will be run over by an American tank which will detonate the mines. Angered over the waste of the mass suicides, Kuribayashi then receives a message from Tokyo that there will be no reinforcements, thus dooming the island to annihilation. At Nishi's cave, after Lt. Okubo wounds a Marine, Nishi surprises his men by ordering the soldier brought to the cave and treated with the last of their medicine. The young American is startled when Nishi speaks to him in English and relates his experience in Los Angeles during the Olympics. Meanwhile, Saigo contemplates surrender, but suspects that the stalwart Shimizu will prefer to commit suicide. Shimizu confides that he spent less than a week with the prestigious police military academy and was discharged and shipped to Iwo Jima after he proved incapable of killing a dog under orders. As the battle rages across the island, Kuribayashi recalls that upon leaving the United States in 1930 he was presented with a 1911 Colt 45, which he still carries with pride, as a parting gift from the officers at Fort Bliss, Texas. When the young American Marine in Nishi’s cave dies, the commander treats the body deferentially and upon finding a letter from the boy’s mother, reads it aloud to his men who are unexpectedly touched. The next morning when Ito finds himself still alive among the dead, he hurls the mines away and stumbles off. During another assault, Nishi is struck in the face and blinded and, learning there is no ammunition remaining, passes command to Okubo, ordering him to get as many men to the northern end of the island as possible. As Okubo leads the survivors, including Saigo and Shimizu, outside, they hear Nishi shoot himself in the cave. Disturbed, Shimizu admits to Saigo that he realizes he knows nothing about Americans and the exchange in the cave between Nishi and the Marine contradicts much of what he has been told about them. Not wanting to die in vain, Shimizu decides to surrender. Later that evening Shimizu successfully makes his way to the Americans where he and another soldier are provided water. Angered at being left behind to guard the two Japanese soldiers, however, an impatient Marine shoots the two men. The next morning, when Okubo’s men come upon the bodies, Saigo weeps bitterly for Shimizu. Later, Okubo leads the men on a desperate dash through enemy crossfire across open ground, but only Saigo and a few others manage to reach Kuribayashi’s headquarters. With no fresh water and reduced to eating worms, Kuribayashi continues to encourage the survivors and praises Saigo for being a good soldier. Privately, Kuribayashi writes to his wife not to expect his return. Later, the general and remaining men are deeply moved by a radio broadcast by the children of Kuribayashi's hometown of Nagano singing a song for Iwo Jima praising the soldiers’ sacrifice and honor. Determined to lead a final assault, Kuribayashi orders Saigo to remain behind and burn military documents and all his private papers, which include the company letters that have never been mailed. Although he burns the military documents, the private buries all of the letters in a bag. When Kuribayashi is wounded in the futile assault, Fujita drags him away to safety but the general insists on dying honorably. Fujita prepares to ceremoniously kill his general, but is shot before he succeeds. Later, Saigo finds the weakened Kuribayashi, who requests that the private bury him and, using the American Colt 45, Kuribayashi then takes his own life. Exhausted and demoralized, Saigo is picked up by Marines but, outraged when one soldier takes the Colt 45 as a souvenir, is knocked out before being taken to a medical unit. Years later, the research excavation team on Iwo Jima finds the bag of Kuribayashi’s papers and the letters from the soldiers to their families. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.